Private recreational anglers and charter and head boat fishermen in the South Atlantic, including here in our local waters, will have only four days in July to harvest red snapper for dinner. And they must sign up for the newly adopted Statewide Reef Fish Survey ahead of time.
Recreational red snapper fishing dates this summer are July 10-12 and July 17. Anglers can keep one red per person per day of any size. And as of July 1, all recreational anglers who target red snapper and other reef fish such as grouper, amberjack and hogfish must obtain a Reef Fish Angler designation from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Signing up for the designation is free at MyFWC.com/Marine. Click on “recreational regulations” then “state reef fish survey.”
The new program expands the Gulf Reef Fish Survey implemented in 2015 to the entire state. Its purpose is to collect more accurate information about several species of reef fish to develop better stock assessments and make other management decisions. Reef Fish Anglers may be contacted by mail or at the dock to answer questions about their fishing trips.
To minimize harm to released red snapper, fisheries managers recommend using non-offset circle hooks which tend to hook the fish in the jaw instead of the internal organs: a de-hooker; and a descending device such as the SeaQualizer to prevent barotrauma (similar to “the bends”) in fish reeled up from deep water and then released.
For commercial red snapper fishers, the season will open July 13 and close Jan. 1 unless the annual commercial catch limit is projected to be reached beforehand.